|Ambassador Phyllis M. Powers inaugurates the bridge|
in the rural community of El Dorado
Last month, in fact, I helped Bridges to Prosperity inaugurate a bridge in the rural community of El Dorado, just outside of Esteli. The bridge itself was a spectacular sight—and it was completed just in time for the rainy season. But it was the coming together of community—both Nicaraguans and Americans—truly defined what we mean when we say “people to people.”
Flatiron Construction worked with local Nicaraguan engineers, who in turn trained the community of El Dorado to maintain and care for the bridge; Peace Corps volunteers from across the country, including the Country Director, came to show support. I even met a young woman who is working to improve the lives of the deaf community in Nicaragua by promoting Nicaraguan Sign Language. We cut the ribbon and crossed the bridge….together.
Fundación Fabretto, an institution for over a quarter century in Nicaragua, is another tremendous example of partnership, cooperation and generosity. Through the efforts of staff and volunteers, following the selfless example of Padre Fabretto, the organization has fed, educated, and enriched thousands of children. They remain the standard for organizations that bring volunteers to Nicaragua; they coordinate with secular and faith-based organizations, the private sector and the government. Our Embassy relies on them for over twenty percent of our English Access Micro-scholarship classrooms and teachers.
While the title of Ambassador in the context of the State Department means that I serve as the President’s personal representative to Nicaragua, the thousands of American volunteers who come to Nicaragua every year are personally representative of the American people. Every day, planes full of volunteers bring Americans back and forth between our countries, strengthening the human bonds we share. The Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) may get the largest headlines, but the most important capital moving between the United States and Nicaragua is human.
This service has awakened a need in our embassy to meet as many of you as we can, to help to amplify your message of “can do,” and to partner with you if possible. Your service reminds us every day that people to people diplomacy is the best and most effective diplomacy. I invite you to contact us when you come to Nicaragua, to share with us your stories of volunteerism, what you shared, what you learned. I look forward to meeting you, thank you for what you do.